Sunday, December 29, 2013

Still learning.... (Sent December 9, 2013)


This was quite the week for learning. Like a lot of the past weeks. As of right now, we have no official investigators. Remember the "zero" thing? It's still in full force. With the new transfer coming up next week, the Elders in my apartment and I were talking about this last night. My companion and Elder Reyna felt really bad, because they said that they had the most success on their missions at the beginning, saying that they're trainers really got them excited about what a mission could be if you did everything correctly, yet none of us had baptisms. I had the thought, and tried to express to them, that the missionaries in the Book of Mormon had plenty of success, but not until the end of their 14 year mission. 12 weeks is comparitively short to that.

Also, just because people don't use their agency to accept the Gospel, doesn't mean that you're a failure. That's a consistent truth that should never be forgotten by anyone living to share the Gospel. Like Preach My Gospel says, "your success is determined upon your dedication to help others come unto Christ."

That being said, we've seen success in other ways. We've seen the Holy Ghost strengthen faithful members, re-excite a lot of less active members, and prepare non-members to recieve the Gospel later. San Ignacio isn't spiritually dead. Just different. By looking at the Area Book, there are are a lot of ups and downs. It's important to look at Missionary Work as a whole. Though it's very sub-divided and systematic to us, God doesn't see it that way. It's an individual proccess and a grand proccess at the same time. The Gospel is spreading forth through every nation, not just one area. I'm not going to lose faith, and I'll face every day with enthusiasm.

On another note entirely, we're making friends with the San Miguel "mafia". But before Mom freaks out too much, we hardly ever approach them and are careful to obey the mission rules about curfew in the dangerous areas. Also, it's not really as cool as it sounds. Sure it's organized like the movies, where a family of criminals controls a certain area of the city, but about 80% of the time they're found drinking on the corners making cat-calls. But sometimes we actually feel prompted to talk to them when they yell "ché, ¡vení!"

One man named Fernandez has become our friend, and drunkenly promised us his "protection" because he respects our religious dedication. I don't know how binding such a promise like that is, or if our testimonies to him about the restored gospel will personally bring about anything in his life, but it was an interesting experience.

I'm starting to understand why Christ was often found among the "drunkards and sinners". Though just about everything they do and say is against what we are preaching, the fact of their divine heritage remains the same. These people are children of God just like me. Their divine and celestial potential is to always be respected and cherished, whether they are trying to attain it or not. Whether they are sincerely changing, or refusing to leave their life as a theif, they are my brothers, and I love them.

Please don't think that everyone is like that in Argentina. I'm in a rather unique area, and the members assure me that this is all pretty new to San Ignacio. There are scores of faithful, kind, humble, honest people, and my heart is filled by their sincerity. But I just wanted to share what I learned this week: that no matter how contrary to the Gospel of Christ someone is living, it's not over. Their divine potential still exists, and the Atonement is still the cure. That fact will never change. Jesus Christ will always be the "only name under heaven by which men may be saved" as Nephi tells us, but that offer doesn't expire.

As the Argentines say: "¡Felices Fiestas!"

Love you all.

-Élder Goff

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